Even as good as he is, Lou Marson has a lot of work to do. The problem is that Marson didn't even start catching regularly until he was in high school and was sort of thrown into it to fill a hole, without getting a lot of instruction on the ins and outs of the job. He did some catching in Little League, only because he was the only one who could catch his team's top pitcher, Craig Heyer, who was drafted by Arizona. The position actually fits Marson well, since he was used to the roughness of football and might have stuck with football as his primary sport if not for an injury. Even though Marson does have some learning to do behind the plate, he has played well there and is showing a lot of progress. Another positive part of just learning the position is that he hasn't had too many years of wear and tear on his knees, which is always helpful.
Offensively, Marson shows a lot of progress, but there are some holes to fill there as well. Keep in mind that the Phillies drafted Marson out of high school and he won't even turn 20 until this June, so there is time for him to learn all that he needs to know. And, with Jason Jaramillo ahead of him on the depth chart, the Phillies don't need to rush Marson to the upper levels.
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Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the fourth round of the 2004 Draft out of Coronado High School in Arizona.
Batting and Power: Don't look for Marson to hit mammoth homeruns or win a lot of batting titles (or any for that matter). What you can look for is for him to be consistent and get the job done. He has to get better hitting with runners on base. Last season, he hit just .223 with runners on base, was 0-for-6 with the bases loaded, hit .188 with runners in scoring position and .192 with runners in scoring position and two outs. He is also working on evening out his production against righties and lefties. At Batavia, he hit just .228 against right-handers and .351 against left-handers.
Baserunning and Speed: Marson is aggressive on the basepaths and goes all out in whatever he does. He has a bit of that football mentality in him yet and isn't afraid of contact with an opposing player if he's in his way. In high school, Marson played a lot of second and third base and has decent, but not impressive speed. At least he's smart about trying to steal, since he's gone 4-for-5 in stolen bases in his pro career.
Defense: Watching Marson, you wouldn't really be able to tell that he hasn't been behind the plate his whole life. He moves well and isn't afraid to block balls in the dirt. His arm is strong and pretty accurate, but he does rush throws from time to time, trying to throw out baserunners. One of the key components of catching is being a leader on the field and Marson is a natural at that. He works well with the pitchers and knows how to pull them through tight spots.
Projection: It's going to be very interesting to see how Marson performs over a full season, which he should get the chance to show with a promotion to Lakewood to start the 2006 season. He's young and a little rough around the edges, but there is a lot of talent in this kid. For now, he's behind Jaramillo on the depth chart, but there are some scouts that believe when all is said and done, Marson will wind up being the better overall player. There's a long time for all of that to play out though.
ETA: Again, primarily because of Jaramillo, Marson won't be rushed. He should be able to adapt well to Lakewood and Clearwater, but it's going to be interesting to see how well he'll adapt when he gets to a point where he's sent to AA. That's often the level that trips up a lot of players, but if Marson continues to develop, he should be fine. He'll likely move a level per season and maybe need just a little more time at AA or AAA, which means he could get a call-up either in September of 2009 or sometime in 2010.
Comparison: Marson compares well to now former Phillie Todd Pratt. He's got the tough mentality that Pratt had and the ability to lead a pitching staff. He does lack Pratt's ability to hit in key situations, but other than that, the two should have similar careers, with Marson likely being a little better and having the ability to play everyday at the major league level, which is something that Pratt didn't do through most of his career.